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Arranging The Tea Table

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Arranging The Tea Table

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Explains the reasoning behind attractive and correct tea-table arranging.

One of the satellite films that accompanied Let's Give a Tea. See also Arranging a Buffet Supper.

Run time 5:00
Production Company Simmel-Meservey
Audio/Visual sound, color


Reviewer: artmd - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - March 16, 2014
Subject: A Tea for all Times
Laughing after reading reviews, how seriously we take ourselves! This is a delightful little look-back at conventions, etiquette, and priorities of post World War II. It is also a useful bit of footage if you want to set up a formal tea... something the Downton-Abbey fans might find great fun! The beauty of this clip is in recognizing that today's women have choices and that graciousness is an art as much as a form. Today we can serve tea any which way, but it is actually fun to design a table and make it flow. While balanced cans of beer and slogans spelled out with snacks do sound like great fun, in this day of anything goes, a bit of formal flavor is equally amusing as we no longer judge ourselves by stuffy yardsticks and gender propriety.
Reviewer: ERD. - favoritefavoritefavorite - February 21, 2009
Subject: When ladies had time
Made in 1946, after W.W.II, there were many woman who didn't have to work and had more leisure time to do such things. Such formality is not needed in today's busy world.
Reviewer: pkkms - favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - February 20, 2009
Subject: Arranging The Super Bowl Table
I showed this to the Super Bowl crew that came over to watch the game before putting the snacks and finger food out. It helped a great deal. Someone lined up all the pork rinds to spell "Bite Me Cardinals" and the chips in the nachos were set up in an exact 360 around the cheese and peppers. When Duke stacked his empty Miller Lite cans next to his chair, they were perfectly grounded to the side arm.
Reviewer: Big Boomer - favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - April 20, 2008
Subject: Arranging the Tea Table
Produced by the Atlanta School Board in 1946 this educational film is a wonderful bit of history. It shows the young woman who wants to host a tea party how to correctly set the table for a formal gathering. In the twenty-first century there are still formal occasions but very little instruction about how to conduct them or arrange for them which leaves the host/hostess having to rely on books or parents for advice. A delightful period piece from a by-gone generation.
Reviewer: PRG - favoritefavoritefavorite - March 29, 2005
Subject: Good advice
Anyone who has gone to a buffet or tea, and has been unable to obtain food without knocking something over or bumping into someone else trying to extract their cutlery from a disorderly pile might wish their host had watched this film. Of course it is a product of its day, but there isn't anything here that wouldn't be taught to employees of a good, modern catering company. My only puzzle is why the film makers thought it neccesary to make this film and the one about a buffet. They seem almost identical.
Reviewer: Marysz - favoritefavoritefavorite - February 5, 2004
Subject: Arranging the Postwar Tea Table
Arranging the Tea Table, is a 1946 film that spells out all too depressingly the upcoming era of domesticity that characterized the 1950s. An older woman instructs a younger woman on how to arrange a formal tea party. Why would these women, who probably built tanks and flew planes during World War II just a few years earlier, waste their time on something so inane as this tea party? We are shown in excruciating detail how to choose a tablecloth, select a flowered centerpiece, place candelabras, position teapots and arrange dainty sandwiches and napkins. We see the womens lips move, but we never hear their voices, which have gone unrecorded. Instead, a male voice-over describes what the women are doing. The narrator talks a lot about the need for the women to show caring and consideration and to behave in a way that avoids accidents and embarrassments. Ostensibly, its the older woman who is in control of this pathetic tea party, but as the film goes on, one cant help thinking that the bombastic male narrator is the one who is really in charge. Obviously now that the war was over, it was time to culturally put women back in their place. Women, deprived of their voices, are the actual objects of re-arrangement in this dispiriting film.
Reviewer: DrKnapp - favoritefavoritefavorite - February 4, 2004
Subject: It's just tea... GET OVER IT!
Obsessive compulsive personality disorder comes to the small screen! See an old biddy teach a young biddy how to meticulously set up a tea table adhering to an endless array of petty rules. The result is a symmetrical arrangements lacking any sense of esthetics. As you watch this, notice that Mother Time consistently makes minor corrections to her student by moving the tableware a faction of an inch this way or that way. Ya just wanna slap her!
Reviewer: K.P. Lee - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - August 22, 2003
Subject: Symmetry is not optional!
Never have I seen etiquette presented in such an oppressive fashion (except in the companion film, "Arranging the Buffet Supper"). There are rules, rules, and still more rules (even down to arranging the silverware and stacking the cups). No wonder nobody does teas anymore!
Reviewer: Spuzz - favoritefavoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - August 22, 2003
Subject: Watch where you put the Candlabra Missy!
Oh my god.
With Arranging the Buffet Table and now Arranging the Tea Table, the makers of the film reach a zenith in high strangeness educational films. Using the same characters as was in 'Buffet Table" (eg Dim Witted Lady & Grey Haired Lady), the film takes a ridiculously complex approach about how to set the Tea table. Centerpiece EXACTLY in center! Candlabra alligned! Coffee urn and milk containers in the EXACT position please! Wow. In the middle, dim witted woman starts bending down. I totally thought she was bending down to grovel at the feet of Grey Haired Lady.

But she was just getting cups.

This is a MUST SEE on this site!
Reviewer: Christine Hennig - favoritefavoritefavoritefavorite - July 29, 2003
Subject: Arranging the Tea Table
In which we learn that behaving as if you have obsessive-compulsive disorder is the best way to make your tea guests feel at ease. "Exactness in details helps tremendously to ensure a sense of perfection," is a direct quote. If you only own a white linen tablecloth, but not a lace or embroidered one, then you might as well throw in the towel right now, because your tea will be an excruciating failure and you will lose all your friends. Have fun!
Ratings: Camp/Humor Value: ***. Weirdness: ***. Historical Interest: ****. Overall Rating: ****.
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